In northern India from Bangladesh to Pakistan there is a style of music that has evolved over the centuries. Hindustani Sangeet, or Sangit, is understood to be a mixture of Hindu and Muslim cultural influences from the time of Persian rulers who took over parts of northern India. The most famous of these instruments are sitar and tabla, but there are others whose use is also prominent.
The sitter appeared during the fall of the Mongol Empire, around 1700 AD. The closest American instrument to the sitar is the guitar. The sitar is a long-necked instrument that is stocked somewhat like a guitar. But that’s where the similarities end. The sitar usually has 17 strings. Some are for picking; others are below and are drone strings that vibrate when the other strings are picked. The body of the sitar is often made of a poured gourd. Ravi Shankar is a famous sitar player whose music has been very popular around the world.
Tabla is a percussion instrument that consists of a set of drums of specific sizes and building materials. The right drum, the dayan, is made of wood and is smaller than the left drum, the bayan, which is made of metal. On top of each drum is a circular black spot in the center. This place is made of a mixture of chewing gum, iron and soot. The stains contribute to the unique sound of the table. They create a bell-like timbre. The origin of this instrument is not exactly known, but it is thought to have evolved from another percussion Indian instrument about 300 years ago.
Bansuri is one of the few woodwind instruments found in the cache of Hindustani instruments. This is a small bamboo flute that has no keys or tone control. There are usually six or seven holes in the flute. This flute is said to symbolize the sound of the peacock and is the expression of the soul’s journey that seeks love.
Manjira is a set of hand-held cymbals of brass, it is known by several Names, among them are jhanj, tala and mondira. This simple instrument is one of rhythm and percussion and is so old that no one knows when it was first used. Examples of this instrument are seen on temple walls dating back thousands of years.